The Business Case for Pinterest

Jennifer Dunphy, Vayu Media - Search Engine Marketing 0 Comments | Add Yours

About The Author:

Jennifer Dunphy, an accomplished sales and marketing executive, is currently the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Vayu Media . You can connect with Jennifer on the Vayu Media Blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest , Google+ and YouTube.

Pinterestcame into the picture in March of 2010 as a closed beta version operating on an invitation only basis, like many other social media outlets in their infancy had preceding them. It wasn’t until August 16th of 2011, when Time Magazine listed Pinterest as one of the “50 Best Websites Of 2011”, that it really stormed onto the scene and began to gain real momentum. By December of 2011, Pinterest had become one of the top 10 largest social networking sites according to Hitwise data. 

What really grabbed my attention about Pinterest was what happened in the following month. In January of 2012, Pinterest managed to drive more referral traffic to retailers’ websites than Google, LinkedIn, and YouTube COMBINED. Better yet, Pinterest overall is now the 4th largest referral network only falling behind Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Now if that doesn’t scream business opportunity, I don’t know what does.

Once Pinterest’s popularity began to increase, many businesses saw the opportunity to tap into this extensive social image network as a marketing platform while it was still“fresh”. They saw it as an opportunity to better connect with their targeted audience and to improve their organic rankings in the search engines. But before we dive in too deep into the case for using Pinterest to grow your business, let’s talk about what Pinterest is. 

Pinterest, also dubbed as a “self-expression engine”,  is a virtual pinboard where you can organize images from anywhere on the web into common themes ranging from fashion, travel, and food, to gift ideas, architecture and even business. With more than 10 million monthly unique visitors, Pinterest has established itself as the third largest social network, with Facebook reigning as number one and Twitter as number two. Pinterest can be used to plan an event, organize your to do listor redecorate your office utilizing the inspiration boards that you created. Better yet, you can easily “pin” images from all of your favorite sites on the web, or from other “pinners” that you follow, and organize them into one central location. Pinterest is like an aesthetic organizational masterpiece. It is a virtual scrapbook that is easier than ever to create and update to reflect your personal style and ambitions. And with societies decreasing attention span, Pinterest is perfect. It is almost all images, and no text. The imges say it all!

Can Pinterest Make Me Money?

So why does Pinterest have so many marketers and businesses salivating? Although Pinterest is the most popular among American women, the usage among men is gaining momentum and the demographics are shifting to a more gender balanced audience.  The social site touts a more mature average audience, ranging from 25-44, which is ideal for marketers. Not only do they have more disposable income, but they are also busier than ever with their attention being pulled into many different directions, and Pinterest plays well with the time challenged professional. Nearly 30% of Pinterest’s 1.5 million daily users have a household income above $100,000 . Pinterest is also seeing a significant increase in users aged 45-54. 

Not only does Pinterest continue to grow in overall user volume, but is also expanding globally, increasing the exposure for anyone that is using the social network. Pinterest, like a business’s website when properly marketed, can serve as a virtual storefront. It has the ability to not only send people to your website, but also to your physical store location.Pinterest can help you to create a style trend, create the viral spread of a new productand best of all;it can help you to sell products. Better yet, you can easily target the type of people that are most likely to buy your products and services.

How, you may ask? Examineyour followers profiles; what types of boards have they created and what type of things are they pinning? If someone has created a board named “Dream Vacation” that is full of images of hotels and things to do in Costa Rica, chances are that they are really interested in visiting Costa Rica. If your business happens to be a hotel in Costa Rica, wouldn’t it be nice to be among their pins in their “Dream Vacation” board? It is not guaranteed business, but it is an opportunity to earn their business. The more people that see your pin, the more people are likely to re-pin your image, which in turn will send interested travelers to your website and hopefully your hotel. This will also help to increase your overall brand awareness.

Imagine you own a business specializing in travel marketing, you can learn a lot about where people are interested in visiting, which can help you to perfectly target and craft the message for your marketing strategy specifically for them.In essence, by learning about the people that follow you and about those that you follow, you gain deep insight into exactly what types of products and services they want. If you have what they want, it is simply a matter of getting your images onto their pin boards and beyond.

Easier said than done? Well…. Not really. It is all about creating an appealing strategy that makes people want to pin your images. Make your brand fun! Make your brand social. It is called “social networking” for a reason.  Obviously, the quality of the image is critical. As the old adage goes, “A Picture Says 1,000 Words”. This couldn’t be truer as it relates to Pinterest. The better the quality of the image, the more likely it is to spread. It is also essential to create a plan that gets your followers engaged and keeps them coming back to you for the latest style trend, whatever your business may be.

Companies large and small can capitalize on the skyrocketing growth of Pinterest. The Gap has made notable stridesin using their Pinterest account as a valuable marketing tool. With over 14,000 followers and nearly 1,000 pins, they are creating a strong footprint of loyal pinners that are advocates for their brand. They even have one board named “Styld.By You” where their loyal pinners can contribute by uploading their own images of Gap outfits worn and styled by the Gaps fans. This is a great way to create buzz, but it is an even better avenue for encouraging engagement form their pinners and gaining valuable insight into their unique style and how they are wearing The Gaps clothing.

Many other top online retailers are following suite and jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon. However, it’s not just well known brands that are capitalizing from Pinterest. Small businesses are reaping the rewards as well. Rod Works , a company offering unique iron work and home décor, started as a small retail store operating a handful of stores, until one single “pin” changed it all.  One day a DIY blogger uploaded a pin from one of her recent Do It Yourself projects that featured an iron rod from Rod Works, and that one pin single handedly created a domino effect that ended with Rod Works launching an ecommerce web store and drastically expanding their business.  After the business changing pin,  Rod Works was so bombarded with calls and emails for months that they launched their ecommerce website and now they are reaping the rewards of selling not only the iron rod from the pin, but also dozens of other unique product that they offer. As a marketer, what could be better? You have actual happy customers showing you how they utilize your products on a daily basis. This kind of coveted data is better than any marketing list a company could purchase. What people “pin” speaks volumes about who they are and what they like.

Pinerest and SEO
Aside from the obvious growing popularity of Pinterest, your organic rankings may stand to benefit from a solid Pinterest strategy as well. This is just one more reason that your business may want to consider allocating resources in your digital marketing strategy to increase your company’s social capital on Pinterest.Although Pinterest should not be viewed as an SEO silver bullet, it can help to move up your company’sorganic search rankings, especially for very specific and targeted keyword phrases. By creating increased social buzz around your company’s imagery, not only are you visually enhancing your brand for everyone that sees your pins, but you are also increasing the likelihood that other websites and blogs will point back to your website because of the images that you pinned, helping to increase the overall visibility of your brand.

Aside from enhancing your websites overall link profile, you are also increasing your social signals and shares which the search engines love and this can only help to improve your websites organic traffic. But as always, remember to add value to the community and remember that this is “social media”. So be sure to socialize. Don’t just pin your own images. Interact with your followers and pin other images that may be of interest to them as well.

So, whattypes of businesses aresuccessfully using Pinterest for marketing?Due to the nature of Pinterest, lifestyle types of brands such as The Travel Channel are particularly successful in utilizing the medium. But don’t get discouraged if that does not fit your business profile. You may be surprised to learn that other business such as The Wall Street Journal are not only successfully leveraging the power of Pinterest with over 16,000 followers, but they are expanding their audience to a new reader demographic that is outside of their typical everyday reader.  They are doing this by creating boards that focus on everything from fashion, beauty and yoga, to their more typical topics like business, top stories and tech&gadgets. Pinterest is all about collecting and sharing your inspirations, which for most people extends far beyond just business. This is one more way on which businesses can get closer to their customer on a more personal level.

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have. It may stand to benefit from utilizing Pinterest.  The most important take away to remember should be thatgood products + beautiful photographs + brand advocates = social power for your business on Pinterest. Is your business ready for the digital imagery revolution.

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